Peer Review By Google

Nicholas Carr fears that Google Scholar Citations and Google Scholar Metrics, used “for tracking and measuring the value of academic articles and other scholarly works,” are rife with the potential for abuse:

The new tools offer a lot of benefits, but they also provide both the temptation and the means to game the scholarly citation system. Attempts to manipulate citations aren’t new, but now it’s possible to take the shenanigans to web scale, to bring black-hat techniques of search engine optimization to the ivory tower. Nat Torkington points to a 2012 paper (pdf), “Manipulating Google Scholar Citations and Google Scholar Metrics: Simple, Easy and Tempting,” in which three Spanish scholars describe how they used fake documents from a fake researcher to skew Google Scholar rankings and measures.

As the researchers put it:

Switching from a controlled environment where the production, dissemination and evaluation of scientific knowledge is monitored (even accepting all the shortcomings of peer review) to a environment that lacks any kind of control rather than researchers’ consciousness is a radical novelty that encounters many dangers.